MOULTRIE — Colquitt County Commission approved Tuesday a contract with a food services company that earlier this year was warned that potentially spoiled meat had been found in prisoners’ meals.

Trinity Services Group, which was sent a letter in January alerting it to the suspected spoiled meat and potentially inadequate amounts of meat in sandwiches has worked to address those issues, Colquitt County Correctional Institute Warden Billy Howell said.

During a telephone interview Wednesday, Howell said he is confident the company can meet the terms of the contract and provide quality meals to inmates.

The company provides food to inmates at the correctional institute and Colquitt County Jail.

Howell sent a letter to Trinity dated Jan. 15, 2009, that spoiled meat had been sent to the jail in a meal on Jan. 14. In a second incident related in the letter, on the following day Howell said that he was shown a sandwich that also had suspected spoiled meat. In addition, the portion of the meat was less than 0.5 ounces, well short of the three ounces required under the contract.

Howell said that testing of a tray prepared on Jan. 14 indicated that there was nothing wrong with the meat.

Kitchen personnel save a random tray from each meal served, which is frozen, so that it can be tested in the event there is a concern about its safety.

Since the letter was sent, Trinity has had training with inmate kitchen personnel and with the company’s employees who work here, Howell said. The company also addressed the question of proper weight of meat in sandwiches by installing a scale, with Howell receiving a report on the random measurements taken at the meat slicer during sandwich preparation.

“I was impressed with their response,” he said. “What you have to remember is these people are serving 400-plus meals, three times a day, 365 days a year. That’s 438,000 meals a year, and we had problems with one piece of meat. I would say that’s a pretty good record.”

The contract approved unanimously by commissioners calls for Trinity to provide three meals per day at an average rate of 98.4 cents per meal, including preparing meals that meet religious requirements of inmates as needed, and also to provide traditional holiday meals on Easter Sunday, July 4, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Under the contract Trinity purchases all food and supplies, and provides a manager and three full-time employees to oversee inmate staff.

Since the letter was written in January, Howell said the kitchen facility has been inspected by the Georgia Department of Health, receiving a score of 93. It was the third inspection by that agency since July, with the facility receiving scores of above 93 on the other two occasions.

The contract renewal is through the end of the year.

“I would not have recommended that their contract be extended if I was not happy with them,” Howell said of Trinity.

In other business Tuesday, commission:

• Approved telephone contracts with Windstream Communications to add lines for the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office annex at a cost of $14,804, to relocate seven telephone lines from the sheriff’s office’s pistol range to the new building and add two new lines at a cost of $260, and a five-year maintenance contract on telephone equipment at Colquitt County Courthouse and annex at an annual rate of $5,814.

• Approved a pay request for work at the jail annex in the amount of $159,875 for completed work.

• Approved architectural service fees in the amount of $1,622 for the jail annex project.

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